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Review Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 ED M.Zuiko Digital (M43)

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The Olympus 75-300 mm for sale since the end of 2010. The unique feature of this compact lens' is its wide zoom range, corresponding to a viewing  angle of a 150-600 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. Couple that enormous zoom range with modest dimensions plus low weight, and you have a lens that you always can take with you, without any shoulder complaints.

The nearest competitor of the Olympus 75-300 mm is the Panasonic 100-300 mm , which we previously tested. The question is, which lens is better: the  Panasonic 100-300 mm or the Olympus 75-300 mm? Especially at a focal point of 300mm we hope that the Olympus beats the Panasonic.

Olympus 75-300 review

Construction and autofocus

The Olympus 75-300 mm is only 12 cm long in its shortest configuration, but it nevertheless has a zoom range that corresponds with the viewing angle of a 150-600 mm zoom lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. With a focal length of 600 mm @ full-frame, this lens is very suitable for bird images or other wild-life photography. The light weight of the Olympus 75-300 mm ensures that you will endure taking images.
Click on the image to see a enlarged version.
300mmexample-olympus-75-300-mm
Olympus 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 ED M.Zuiko Digital
, @ 300 mm, 1/320
I got greedy for this lens when I first held it. The lens is beautifully finished, light and comfortable to hold. As you can see in the picture, the Olympus 75-300 mm becomes about 50% longer when zoomed out.
The drive of the autofocus is fast and quiet when using the Olympus 75-300 mm on an Olympus E-M5. Downside is that the zoom lens too easily extends when the camera is held vertically, such as hanging around your neck. The zoom lens will extend itself to a focal length of 300 mm.
Specifications
Olympus 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 ED M.Zuiko Digital
Image Stabilization:+
lenses/ groups:18/13
length x diameter:116 / 70
filter size:58
Weight:430
Lens hood:+

Image stabilization

 

The Olympus 75-300 mm has no built-in image stabilization, which might be a disadvantage for users of a Panasonic cameraOlympus cameras apply in-camera image stabilization ("IBIS"). And the Olympus image stabilization works very effectively as shown in our previous reviews: you will win 4 stops. See the Olympus IS test in the Olympus 45 mm test and the Olympus E-M5 test.

Vignetting

 
We measured the amount of vignetting in jpg images produced with the Olympus 75-300 mm in combination with the Olympus E-M5. In terms of vignettingthe Olympus 75-300 mm delivers a very good performance. In practice you will almost never see visible vignetting in images made with this lens. Olympus-75-300-mm-review-vignetting

Olympus 75-300 Distortion

 
The distortion over the entire zoom range is pincushion-shaped. This type of distortion is less easily identified by the naked eye than barrel-shaped distortion. The degree of distortion is low at 75 mm, and is acceptable at the other focal lengths. In architecture, the images' pincushion distortion might just become visible. If necessary, this degree of distortion can be corrected easily using photo editing software such as Lightroom or PTlens. Olympus-75-300-mm-review-distortion

Bokeh Olympus 75-300 mm

 

The bokeh of this lens is certainly not unpleasant, thanks to the long focal lengths that you can use. Only around  highlights there can be a color difference, as you can see in this image.

Click on the image to see a larger version..

Olympus-75-300-review-bokeh

Flare

 
This lens was found to be to our surprise, sensitive to flare. Previously tested Olympus lenses such as the Olympus 45 mm 1.8 and the Olympus 9-18 mm scored very well on this part. At this point, the Olympus 75-300 mm acknowledge the superiority of the Panasonic 100-300 mm . flare-olympus-75-300mm

Olympus 75-300 Resolution

 

The Olympus 75-300 mm is so compact and light that you can take it with you without being troubled by its weight. The more you have a telephoto lens with you, the greater the chance you will come home with a nice picture. To illustrate this, we pictured a kingfisher for you. This image has been made at a focal length of 300 mm, where its performance is worst. We applied a little extra sharpening in the RAW file to compensate for that and are still pleased with the result. How about you?

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Ijsvogel

Sharpness of the Olympus 75-300 mm in a nutshell: the longer the focal length the lower the sharpness. Here you see a practical example of a jpg image made at a focal length of 300 mm. Not very sharp, but certainly acceptable.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Olympus-75-300-mm-review-sample-image

Only above a focal length of 250 mm, sharpness rapidly decreases. If you compare the Imatest results for resolution of the Olympus 75-300 mm, with the Imatest resolution measurements of the Panasonic 100-300 mm , the Panasonic is almost just as good. The differences are, however, so small that it is usually will not be visible.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Olympus-75-300-mm-review-resolutie

Chromatic aberration Olympus 75-300mm

 
Chromatic aberration is generally well kept under control at all focal lengths with the Olympus 75-300. Even at the extreme focal lengths you will find almost no chromatic aberration. Olympus-75-300-mm-review-CA
When you enlarge the image up to 100%, a limited amount of chromatic aberration becomesw visible, as you can cee in this crop. This amount of chromatic aberration can easily be corrected using software. Olympus-75-300-mm-review-CA-example

Conclusion Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 ED M.Zuiko Digital review

Olympus-75-300-mm-review-sample


Look in our list of reviewed lenses or in our list of reviewed micro-43 lenses to compare the performance of this lens with that of other lenses.
ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens when you save the files in the camera as jpg, including all in-camera lens corrections (distortion, chromatic aberration). This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
75
150
7.5
6.7
8.2
9.3
9.0
100
200
6.6
6.5
5.8
9.3
7.6
150
300
6.7
6.5
6.8
9.3
7.0
200
400
6.5
6.4
5.9
9.5
7.1
250
500
6.6
6.3
7.0
9.6
7.2
300
600
6.1
5.7
7.3
9.4
7.2
Overall
Overall
6.8
6.5
6.8
9.4
7.4

Pros

  • Compact and light weight tele-zoom lens
  • Decent optical performance over the entire zoom range, especially resolution,  distortion and vignetting: Almost no vignetting over entire zoom range
  • Best performance at lower focal points: Top resolution performance at 75 mm f/8

Cons

  • Zoom lens extends by itself when aimed downwards.
  • Sensitive to flare

This lens offers an excellent value for money. In terms of vignetting, the Olympus 75-300 mm delivers a very good performance and also distortion will never be a problem. Sharpness of the Olympus 75-300 mm images in a nutshell: the shorter the focal length, the higher the sharpness. Set to 75 mm and aperture 8, the Olympus 75-300 mm and image quality to compete with the best lenses out there, whether the lenses on a camera with a micro-43, APS-C or full-frame sensor. At a focal length of 300 mm, this lens is - just like the Panasonic 100-300 mm - not yet the tack sharp telephoto lens some micro-43 users are waiting for.

We started this review with the question whether the Olympus 75-300 mm could beat the Panasonic 100-300 mmin terms of the quality. The cheaper Panasonic 100-300 mm scores equal for overall optical performance. The differences between these two lenses are so small that it will only show in direct comparison. I got greedy when I received this lens for our Olympus 75-300 review and I believe that many micro-43 camera owners who bought a Olympus 75-300 mm will make many stunning pictures, where APS-C and full frame camera owners left the telephoto lens at home because of its size or weight.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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Comments (8)

  1. Joseph

:sad: <br />You didn't clerly answer the question: Which of the 2 lenses is better, overall?<br />That's what your review users need to know.

 
  1. Ivo    Joseph

Hoi Joseph,<br /><br />I understand your disappointment that I didn't provide a clear overall winner. Their overall scores for image quality in our overview of tested micro-43 lenses is almost identical. The Panasonic has built in image...

Hoi Joseph,<br /><br />I understand your disappointment that I didn't provide a clear overall winner. Their overall scores for image quality in our overview of tested micro-43 lenses is almost identical. The Panasonic has built in image stabilization and is cheaper. Nevertheless I would call it a draw.<br /><br />regards <br />Ivo

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  1. Joseph

:-)<br />Very nice to provide links to other reviews.<br />I'll re-visit!

 
  1. Ivo    Joseph

:-)<br />We like to see you soon!

 
  1. Lee Rothman

you criticize the extension of the Olympus lens when hung down, yet you didn't mention that the Panasonic 100-300 is quite stiff and NOT linear in feel at all. I've owned BOTH I know. As for sharpness I won't say the Panasonic isn't decently...

you criticize the extension of the Olympus lens when hung down, yet you didn't mention that the Panasonic 100-300 is quite stiff and NOT linear in feel at all. I've owned BOTH I know. As for sharpness I won't say the Panasonic isn't decently sharp at it's full extension of 300mm, however on the silver copy of the Olympus I took deliver of it most certainly IS crisper at 300mm and the build is notably superior not to mention the lighter weight and carry size which is what Mft is all about. Is it worth an exta $400? Only if you plan on keeping it LONG term in my opinion. I'm glad I got it over and went with the Olympus in the end. It sure makes for a compact 600mm equivalent reach compared to any other lens of it's type.

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  1. Ivo    Lee Rothman

Hi Lee,<br /><br />Thanks for sharing your experience with us.<br /><br />I agree with you about the light weight and the compact size of the Olympus. I had the impression I didn't miss that: these are the first Pros mentioned in the...

Hi Lee,<br /><br />Thanks for sharing your experience with us.<br /><br />I agree with you about the light weight and the compact size of the Olympus. I had the impression I didn't miss that: these are the first Pros mentioned in the conclusion.<br /><br />Nevertheless I have some different experiences with the Panasonic: I have tested several Panasonic 100-300. They all didn't feel stiff at all. One copy extended almost as easily as the Olympus, when hang down. <br />Concerning the sharpness at 300 mm: Photozone reported very high resolution figures for the Panasonic. SLR gear on the other hand, were not so enthusiastic about the Oly at 300 mm. Our Imatest resolution measurements and real life test shots at 300 mm are too close to call a winner between the Panasonic and the Olympus. <br /><br />But I understand you're happy with the Olympus. I agree with you it's a good choice when you keep it for the long run<br /><br />Regards<br /><br />Ivo

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  1. pv

If you compare resolution in your review to the Pana 100-300 there is a big difference, isn't it.<br />Why is the final score 7.0 , when res/vign/CA/dist is between 7.3 to 9.6?

 
  1. Ivo    pv

Hi pv,<br /><br />You're surprised that the final score is lower than the individual scores for resolution, vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion.<br />And that's a good question!<br /> <br />The individual score algorithms for...

Hi pv,<br /><br />You're surprised that the final score is lower than the individual scores for resolution, vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion.<br />And that's a good question!<br /> <br />The individual score algorithms for res/vign/ca/dist are normalized in such a way that each parameter yields scores up to 9.9. <br /><br />For the calculation of the final score, not only the original (not normalized) scores for CA/res/vign/CA/dist are used, but some additional parameters as well. There are many parameters like flare, bokeh, largest aperture, etc, which are difficult to give precise individual numbers for, but which can be used to limit the final score. In the end, also the finals scores are normalized that the best lens receives a 9.9 score.<br /><br />The final score of the Pana 100-300 is only 0.2 higher than the final score of the Oly 75-300 mm. I don't consider that a big difference. Do you?<br /><br />Regards,<br /><br />Ivo

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